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Ne … guère = Hardly

These sentences use the negative expression ne... guère (hardly):

Il n'y avait guère de nourriture en ce temps-là.
There wasn't much food in those times.

Je n'ai guère le temps.
I hardly have time.

Il n'est guère patient.
He isn't very patient.

Nous ne nous en soucions guère.
We hardly worry about it.

Note that the negation ne... guère means not much / not very or hardly depending on context.

It is quite an old-fashioned expression, rarely used nowadays, but you could find it in older novels or articles.

As with other negative expressions, the verb is placed between ne and guère.

ATTENTION:
Guère can never be used on its own to express hardly.
Instead, you would use the expression à peine:


Sais-tu nager ? - À peine.
Can you swim? - Hardly.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Il n'y avait guère de nourriture en ce temps-là.
There wasn't much food in those times.


Nous ne nous en soucions guère.
We hardly worry about it.


Il n'est guère patient.
He isn't very patient.


Je n'ai guère le temps.
I hardly have time.


Sais-tu nager ? - À peine.
Can you swim? - Hardly.


Q&A

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

17 May 2018

3 replies

I heard about ne guère de monde, what's the distinction there?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

21 May 2018

21/05/18

Hi CrystalMaiden,


Do you mean: 


"Il n'y a guère de monde" ="There's hardly anyone here". ?

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

21 May 2018

21/05/18

Yes, what makes it different from guère, since it can be used in the same situations?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

22 May 2018

22/05/18

You would use 'guère' in an answer (without the ne).


e.g.


Aimez-vous l' art moderne? - Guère (meaning not really).


But it does sound a bit stilted...

sue

Kwiziq community member

6 February 2017

1 reply

"Hardly" eg can you swim? answer "hardly"

English can respond to a question by saying hardly can it be used in the same way in french. thank you

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

8 February 2017

8/02/17

Bonjour Sue !

This is an interesting question: in this case "guère" can never be used on its own.
If you wanted to express "hardly" in the mentioned context, you would use the expression "à peine":

"Sais-tu nager ? - À peine."

I've now added a note to the lesson.
Merci beaucoup et à bientôt !

Mike

Kwiziq community member

10 November 2015

2 replies

So if it is an old fashion expression, how do you express this in modern French?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

10 November 2015

10/11/15

Bonjour Mike,

There are a few different ways.

Il n'y avait guère de nourriture > Il n'y avait pas beaucoup de nourriture, Il y avait très peu de nourriture.

Je n'ai guère le temps > J'ai à peine le temps, j'ai à peine assez de temps.

Nous ne nous en soucions guère > Nous nous en soucions très peu, Nous ne nous en soucions presque pas.

Johnny

Kwiziq community member

12 April 2017

12/04/17

What is the difference in usage between à peine and peu or pas beaucoup? Can you use à peine in all three of your examples above? Thanks.
I'll be right with you...